In wake of bushfires, a penalty that comes as officials try to handle bushfires said that Australian drivers can now be fined up to $11,000 if they are caught tossing lit cigarettes out of their automobiles.
On Friday, this penalty for throwing lit cigarettes out of vehicles took effect in New South Wales which is a southeastern Australian state that faced severe impacts due to the bushfires. The fines up to $11,000 will be exercised when the officials in the state declare a complete ban on fire which happens in cases of extreme weather and bans people from lighting fire in public by suspending fire permits.
Penalized drivers will also face up 10 demerit points for committing this offence. This is the first time this type of infraction has a demerit point penalty being enforced. This penalty is not only for drivers but also for car passengers. Passengers who throw a lit cigarette out of the vehicle during this ban would face fined up to $1,320. In fact, during times the fire ban is not in place, both drivers and passengers could also receive certain lesser penalties for throwing lit cigarettes out of their cars.
In a press release by the government of The New South Wales said that last year, more than 200 people were caught throwing lit cigarettes out of their vehicles. According to President of New South Wales Rural Fire Service Association, Brian McDonough, this reckless behaviour of people has put the life and safety of firefighting volunteers at risk. He even hopes that this move would further make people think carefully about the future consequences of their actions next time they think of going to discard a lit cigarette.
At the beginning of this month, officials declared a new state emergency in states like New South Wales and Victoria as the bushfires raged in the states. Around 15 million acres of land was destroyed throughout the country. According to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service’s tweet, there are still 69 fires burning in New South Wales as of Saturday out of which 19 of those fires are yet to be contained. According to CNN, more than 3,000 homes were destroyed or damaged in New South Wales and amid the spike in fires around 28 people have perished nationwide.